What I’ve Learned From a Box of Vegetables This Summer

A few months ago, I mentioned that our family had signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture subscription – basically, we paid $500 for 17 weeks of vegetables. We pick up our weekly box of vegetables from Almost Urban Vegetables, and get to enjoy delicious, local, organic vegetables all week without having to battle the crowds at the farmer’s market. I’ve been told it’s also a much cheaper way to get local veggies, but it would be hard to calculate the exact cost.

This has turned into a bit of a food adventure for our family, and although there have been some moments of feeling overwhelmed by the humongous amount of greens taking over my fridge, it’s been fun, for the most part. Definitely something to get used to, but I think we’ll do it again next year, and I think it will be easier and less overwhelming.

carrots

As I was thinking about vegetables while making supper the other day, I realized that my attitude toward food has changed since June. I’ve learned some important things from this weekly box of veggies, which I thought I’d pass on this morning…

1) Eat what you have, and be happy for it.

This is the most important one, in my mind. I am so used to making up a grocery list based on what I feel like eating. And we can do that in North America, but I think we’ve lost perspective on what the rest of the world experiences when it comes to food. What if a family in a Third World country doesn’t feel like eating rice and beans?

When we get our box of veggies, we don’t choose what’s in it. A friend asked me, “What happens if you don’t feel like eating what you get?”

We eat it anyway!! And we learn not to involve so many emotions and preferences with food.

We eat it because it’s good for us, and because that’s what is in the fridge.

2) Eat seasonally.

We also eat it because that’s what happens to be growing in the garden right now. Appreciation for food changes when you eat beet greens for 8 weeks in a row, knowing that you won’t eat them again for the rest of the year. Many of the vegetables we get in our box, I have never seen at Superstore. I love some of these “new” vegetables, but I won’t be able to eat them again for a long time. That gives new appreciation.

Plus, it’s just delicious to eat all this fresh stuff. It’s like eating fresh strawberries picked at a local strawberry farm for a couple of weeks straight, and then trying to go back to those half white, fake-tasting strawberries that have been shipped in from who knows where. The taste does not compare. So we eat all we can now in summer, we freeze all we can, and when that runs out, maybe we ease up on the strawberries until next summer. (I found this blog post to have an interesting description on seasonal eating.)

3) Find new favorites.

Many weeks, it’s taken Ben and me a little while to figure out what in the world we’ve gotten in our box. The veggies aren’t labelled, but we do get a list of what is in the box, so we try to match up the name to the veggie. Sometimes we’ve needed to use the internet! Once we know what everything is, we have to figure out how to use it.

I’ve learned that Pinterest has a recipe for everything!! I’ve learned that even though I spent my whole life thinking I despise beets, I actually like them roasted! We love beet greens in the frying pan with eggs – who knew! And garlic scapes on fish is just completely delicious.

I didn’t know that green beans can be purple, but change color while cooking. I found an awesome new recipe for broccoli salad that used up a ton of veggies in our fridge. I even made beet borscht – don’t know if my mom still remembers my one run-in with beet borscht as a kid, but I was scarred for life. I never thought I’d eat it and love it as an adult! And kale in soup! Love it!

I can’t count how many new recipes we’ve tried this summer, but I know that I’ll be looking forward to next summer, when we can enjoy these new favorites. My family has been awesome about being experimented on. Don’t get me wrong – our girls definitely have some food issues like every other kid, but I think they’ve come a long way this summer. We always tell them they don’t have to like it, but they have to try one bite. And often one bite turns into more.

4) Find pleasure in vegetables!

They’re beautiful and delicious, and this summer, they’ve even become adventurous! We’ve had fun, and I’m so glad our vegetable subscription runs until October! I’m sure there are many more mysterious, unheard-of veggies heading my way before winter!!

What vegetables have you been enjoying most this summer?

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2 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned From a Box of Vegetables This Summer

  1. I don’t know about enjoying most but I grew rainbow swiss chard for the first time and I am loving it sautéed with bacon and garlic and tomato. Soooo delicious!! For me it is more an adventure in growing the food and then figuring out what to do with it. If I have too much, I love to give it away. I look forward to making pasta sauces and BBQ sauces and other delicious food that can be preserved and enjoyed all year. The other day we ate farmer sausage from the pigs Jay raises, and then potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and corn-on-the-cob, all fresh from the garden, as well as apple juice I made last summer. We all commented on how awesome it is to eat food we have grown or raised ourselves (or, in your case, grown super close to home!).

    • That is amazing!! It must be so much fun to have a ton of space for a huge garden! I’m very impressed with the way you experiment with growing new things! I think I’d get stuck in a rut, and just keep planting “safe” vegetables!! Anything you already know you want to try next year?

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